Well, I did it again. I said I was covering the women in parables this week, but then decided I just couldn’t wait to do the Widow With Two Mites. Her story is so inspiring, and a wonderful reminder of the importance of giving sacrificially.
Both Mark and Luke cover the story of the poor widow and her temple gift, but Mark provides more details, so we’ll focus there.
The stage is set in Mark 11:27. Jesus and His disciples come to Jerusalem, and as they enter the temple, the religious leaders bombard Him with questions concerning His authority to do miracles. In chapter 12 we see that rather than answering directly, He began to speak in parables.
The leaders knew He was speaking against them in His parables, but feared the multitude, so they waited before doing anything. Instead, they sent Pharisees and Herodians to catch Him in His words.
Jesus participated in their theological debate, answering their questions with wisdom and understanding that they couldn’t dispute. Eventually, they gave up and Jesus continued teaching the common people. He warned them to beware of the scribes who go around pretending to be spiritual while using their position for personal gain.
While Jesus was teaching, He sat across from the treasury, the box where everyone would drop off their tithes and offerings. He watched the rich put in their grand amounts. Then He saw a poor widow quietly place in the box two mites. Together, they equalled less than a penny, but when Jesus witnessed her act, He was touched.
I love how in Mark 12:43 it says, “He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood.’ ” (NKJV)
“He called His disciples to Himself.” Can’t you see it? He’s speaking to the crowd, witnesses the widow in the distance, and stops what He’s doing to pull His disciples to His side to make sure they don’t miss what just happened.
Then He moved on.
The Rest of the Story
What’s interesting about this story is that though Mark and Luke both recorded it, it’s really just a very small side note.
Unlike other incidents where Jesus publicly addressed individuals or personally confronted them, in this case, Jesus whispered what was going on to His disciples and never approached the widow herself.
Why is that?
Well, look at what Jesus was talking about before this incident. He was warning people against doing things for attention. He talked about the insincerity of the scribes, how they make a big deal with their fancy prayers, when behind the scenes, they’re stealing from poor widows.
He watched as all these people made a production of giving bountiful gifts, when in reality, their offerings made little difference to their bank accounts.
And then He observed this woman. There was nothing about her to call attention, unless it was the contrast between her and the wealthy worshippers. As she waited her turn and listened to the loud cha ching as their heavy offerings dropped, she likely withdrew into herself, hoping no else would witness her tiny contribution. I’m sure she worried that it wasn’t enough, questioning if anything could even be such with such an insignificant amount.
And yet, she didn’t lose confidence. She didn’t get discouraged. And she didn’t talk herself out of giving.
Even though it was all that she had in the world, she gave freely, not worrying about how she would survive without it.
Jesus knew that to publicly point out this woman’s offering would have disrespectful to this woman. She wasn’t looking for attention. To have everyone know how destitute she was would have been horrifying.
But Jesus couldn’t simply ignore her gift. That’s why He called over the disciples to use it as a teaching point for them without embarrassing her.
This woman, though recorded for eternity, never knew that Jesus used her as an example. She had no clue that Mark and Luke shared her testimony. She may have not even realized who the man across the room was. It didn’t matter.
This woman’s faith is incredible. She did the right thing when she thought no one else was looking. She gave her all, even though little was expected of her. She trusted that even if she gave her very last coin, that God would provide for her needs. And you know what? I’m pretty sure He did.
This story has so many life applications for us.
First, how willing are you to give sacrificially? Sure, it’s easy to tithe when we’re feeling rich. When the checks are pouring in and we have more money than month, it’s no big deal to give. But what about the times when there’s more month than money? When you are looking at empty envelopes and worrying how you’re going to pay your bills, are you willing to give first and trust God to provide?
When you do give, do you make a point to let others know? Do you brag about your generosity? Are you willing to give even if no one else has a clue?
Do you give expecting something in return? Have you bought into the prosperity gospel, hoping that if you give to God, He’ll give to you?
Finally, do you put demands on your gifting? Do you only give if you feel the church is worthy of your tithes? What happens if the church or others in the church act irresponsibly with the church funds? Are you willing to trust a perfect God when imperfect individuals are controlling the purse strings?
The church should have been taking care of the poor widow. The Bible is full of commands for God’s people to take care of the defenseless widows and orphans. Instead, as Jesus pointed out, the religious leaders were actually taking advantage of widows, stealing their houses from them.
Who knows if this woman was one of their victims. Even if not, she could very well have seen what was going on with fellow widows. And yet, despite the corruption in the church, she still gave her offering because it was the right thing to do.
Money is a touchy subject. It always has been. But it’s a subject that needs to be addressed. May we use this woman as an example of how to trust God with our finances and let Him control our future.
Lord God, we come to You thankful that You saw the Widow With Two Mites and made sure that her story was shared that we might all learn from it. Give us each the courage to have that kind of faith. Forgive us those times we lose sight of You and get caught up in what others are doing. Forgive us when we do good and then want everyone else to applaud our humble efforts. Help us to always keep our eyes on You and not the world. Watch over us. Provide for our needs. I pray especially today for widows, orphans, and victims who are at the mercy of others and unable to provide for themselves. Do a mighty work in their lives. Show them how very much You love them. In Christ’s name we pray. Amen.
Tune in next week when we look at the women in the parables.
Backstory: Mark 11:27-33; 12:1-40
Her Story: Mark 12:41-44; Luke 21:1-4
Bible Study Review
- Where did Jesus encounter the Widow With Two Mites?
- What was she doing?
- How did she react to Jesus
Thoughts to Ponder
- Why did Jesus point her out to His disciples?
- Why did Jesus warn people about the scribes?
- Why didn’t Jesus talk directly to the Widow?
- Do you do things in order to impress other people?
- Do you worry more about what people think of you or what Jesus thinks of you?
- Do you give sacrificially
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